Solutions / City-Wide Solutions

Citywide Solutions

Cities have many solutions available to reduce air pollution quickly and at scale. See which solution areas are right for your city.

“Cities can reduce both air pollution and short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and ozone through a range of measures that benefit health very immediately and climate in the near term.”

Dr. Carlos Dora, Coordinator of WHO’s air quality, public policies and health work.
01

Solutions for Transport

01 - Solutions for Transport Strong public transit systems are the backbone for making our cities “trim”, energy efficient and more livable. Cities built primarily around car travel quickly become sprawling and “obese” -- gobbling up land in highways and parking lots, generating more pollution, and fostering unhealthy lifestyles. Pedestrian- and cycle-friendly cities with separated networks for walking biking and mass transit make commuting safer, easier, healthier, and less expensive.
  • Walking & cycling paths

    Walking and cycling networks make trips by foot or bicycle safer and more accessible, preventing pollution from vehicles, traffic injuries, and promoting better health through physical activity.

  • Efficient mass transit

    Shifting people to more efficient forms of transport, including bus rapid transit, light rail and other forms of shared transportation dramatically reduces air pollution by cutting down on private vehicle use and emissions.

  • Emission standards

    Raising emissions standards for all vehicles takes heavy polluters off the road and drives market pressures for cleaner vehicles, as well as innovation for cleaner technologies. Reducing high-sulfur fuels in many emerging economies is an important first step.

  • Soot-free vehicles

    “Soot-free” vehicles reduce tailpipe particulate/black carbon emissions by 85% or more, as compared to uncontrolled diesel exhaust. Soot-free vehicles are typically vehicles certified to Euro VI or US 2010 emission levels, including electric drive or hybrid engines, compressed natural gas (CNG), biogas/other biofuels, or diesel engines with a functioning diesel particle filter.

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African countries progressing towards cleaner car imports

On the island nation of Mauritius, in the capital of Port Louis, the air has become tangibly clearer as the number of hybrid and electric vehicles on the road has soared. In the five years from 2009, the number of hybrid vehicles grew from just 43 to 1,824, and that of electric vehicles from none […]

Rome bans diesel cars by 2024 to fight air pollution

Rome is banning diesel cars in its city centre by 2024 to protect both public health and thousands of years of heritage from the detrimental effects of air pollution. Its world-famous monuments underwent a cleanup in readiness for turn-of-the-millennium celebrations in 2000, but are currently already showing signs of degradation from pollution. Almost all air […]

World Health Organization issues recommendations to tackle health impacts of air pollution in Mongolia

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week released a set of long-, medium- and short-term recommendations for the Government of Mongolia to tackle air pollution. It is also urging the Government to keep air pollution as a top priority for policies and implementation throughout the year. The use of biomass (such as raw coal) to heat […]

Brussels moves closer to emergency air pollution plan

Brussels is closer to passing a “pollution peaks” legislation in Parliament that will make public transport and the public bicycle system free, demand reduced vehicle speeds in the city and ban wood-fired heaters after two days of high pollution days. The city council will make buses, trams, the metro and bikes free if particulate matter […]

German court allows states to ban diesel vehicles

A German court has ruled this week that cities in the car-loving country are at liberty to ban heavily-polluting diesel vehicles, a move that would add to the growing number of cities in Europe and around the world that have already announced near-future bans. After the ban was announced, Hamburg said it would start to […]

Five German cities to test free public transportation in bid to cut pollution

Five German cities are likely to join a budding global experiment that poses the question: does free public transport in cities lead to reduced pollution and reduced road congestion, and is it sustainable in the longer term? Bonn, the former capital of what was once West Germany, along with Essen, Reutlingen, Mannheim and Herrenberg (which […]

Ukraine cuts tax on electric vehicles amid strong demand

The Ukrainian Parliament has adopted a provisional exemption on value-added tax and excise tax for all electric vehicles for 2018 on a temporary pilot basis. A more comprehensive regulation is being developed to develop a sustainable environment for electric mobility in the country, including favourable conditions for investment opportunities in this market. The announcement follows […]

France kicks off 2018 with anti-pollution incentives

Up to €1000 for any French citizen who wants to replace their old petrol-engine cars for those emitting less carbon dioxide, €3,000 for poorer households to switch to renewables-powered heating systems and an increase in the price of carbon. These are three measures, part of France’s “climate solidarity package”, came into force in 2018 as the […]

Santiago rolls out Euro VI standards for buses and no-emission buses

Santiago is adopting Euro VI standards for all its new buses and progressively adding 90 new “zero-emission” buses to its public transport fleet, as part of an effort to reduce emissions from transport in the Chilean capital. From 2019, 50 per cent of the 6,500-strong Transantiago bus fleet will meet EURO VI standard, including 90 […]

Traffic restrictions in health-threatening air pollution events come into effect

Vans registered before 1 October 1994 and cars registered before 1 September 1997 under the Catalan government’s authority will now face restrictions within a special environment zone when an air pollution episode is declared owing to high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Starting in December 2017, this is one of several new measures that will […]

02

Solutions for Waste Management

02 - Solutions for Waste Management Landfills account for 11% of the world’s methane emissions, and municipal waste is expected to nearly double by 2025. Furthermore, an estimated 90% of wastewater in developing countries is discharged untreated or partially treated. Better waste management programs are integral to ensuring our communities don’t suffer as a result, both on a local and global level.
  • Landfill gas recovery

    Landfill gas recovery is an innovative, renewable energy option that actually harnesses harmful landfill emissions rather than allowing them to enter the atmosphere or our lungs.

  • Improved wastewater treatment

    Improving wastewater treatment and sanitation provisions, both in the home and in industry, can make an enormous difference in reducing infectious disease risks.

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World Health Organization issues recommendations to tackle health impacts of air pollution in Mongolia

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week released a set of long-, medium- and short-term recommendations for the Government of Mongolia to tackle air pollution. It is also urging the Government to keep air pollution as a top priority for policies and implementation throughout the year. The use of biomass (such as raw coal) to heat […]

Clarke Energy in the UK is using landfill gas to supply more than 2.7million EU homes

In addition, by capturing landfill gas instead of emitting it directly into atmosphere, they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 40 million tonnes CO2 equivalent each year.

Clean energy from sludge bio-digesters in Santiago

Large and centralized wastewater treatment plants in Santiago are harvesting methane emissions during wastewater treatment.

03

Household air & pollution

03 - Solutions for Household air & pollution Nearly 60% of premature deaths from household air pollution are among women and children who spend hours around sooty cookstoves burning wood, coal and kerosene. Shifting to cleaner stoves can have a domino effect of benefits – reducing black carbon emissions as well as the time spent by women and girls in gathering fuel.
  • Low-emission stoves and fuels

    Cleaner-burning biomass stoves and other low-emission fuels or stove types improve air quality in the home and the community, and lower risk of burns or other injuries.

  • Improved lighting

    Electric lighting, including PV solar rooftop panels, reduces reliance on kerosene lamps that emit heavy concentrations of harmful black carbon and other air pollutants.

  • Passive building design principles

    Reducing the need for extra heating or cooling by designing homes that take advantage of the sun’s natural warming and fresh air ventilation for cooling can help minimize a home’s air pollution and carbon footprint.

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Mongolia tackles air pollution in Ulaanbaatar by legislation and example

It’s midday, but the sky is dark, as if dusk has long fallen. The winter air is thick and sooty, creeping into living areas, from thousands of heating stoves and hearths alit with smoky, bituminous coal— 350,000 tonnes of this cheapest and most readily available solid fuel— and a persistent smog blankets the streets. The […]

World Health Organization issues recommendations to tackle health impacts of air pollution in Mongolia

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week released a set of long-, medium- and short-term recommendations for the Government of Mongolia to tackle air pollution. It is also urging the Government to keep air pollution as a top priority for policies and implementation throughout the year. The use of biomass (such as raw coal) to heat […]

Cleaner cookstoves linked to better pregnancy outcomes

Details of the link between air pollution and the health of unborn children are growing. Hot on the heels of a British Medical Journal study that linked outdoor air pollution to lower birthweight of babies, a new study has found, conversely, that switching from more polluting traditional cookstoves to cleaner-burning ethanol ones has positive impacts […]

Burn Right Campaign

As the seasons change and the weather turns cold in the northern hemisphere, millions of homes in Europe, Asia and North America turn to fireplaces and wood stoves for warmth. But these bright cozy fires often have a dark side, hurting both the environment and our health. The Burn Right campaign exposes this harmful impact […]

Washington, DC joins BreatheLife Network

The District’s core strategy for cleaner air is outlined in the Clean Energy DC plan, an ambitious vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2032 and 80 percent by 2080. The bold plan positions the District as a global leader in fighting climate change; it also offers a roadmap to cleaner air and healthier citizens.

Mongolia joins the BreatheLife network

Mongolia’s capital city Ulaanbaatar is one of the most polluted in the world. But the nation is charting a new path towards a green economy and sustainable urban development.

The District is World’s First LEED Platinum City

On August 31, Washington, DC was recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council for achieving its goals in sustainability and resiliency. The city is the first certified LEED Platinum City in the world.

Talca, Chile joins global BreatheLife campaign

Talca’s air quality strategy is focused on reducing smoke from firewood. The strategy includes measures such as improved weatherization and thermal insulation of homes to lower heating demands, and overhauling wood stoves and replacing outdated heaters.

CDM urban housing energy upgrade (Cape Town)

The project employed local residents to retrofit over 2300 homes in Kuyasa township, an informal settlement in South Africa, with solar water heaters…

04

Solutions for Energy supply

04 - Solutions for Energy supply Oil and gas produce 25% of the world’s methane emissions. Flaring, the burning of uncaptured gas during production, emits harmful black carbon. Better control of fugitive emissions and capturing flared gas as fuel helps limit emissions from current oil and gas production in the short-term, while the shift to renewable energy sources can ensure a cleaner, healthier future in the long-term.
  • Renewable power supply

    Renewables directly improve air quality while slowing climate change. For example, rooftop PV solar systems in off-grid rural areas or fast-growing cities with unreliable energy supply is a clean, and cost-effective alternative to heavily polluting portable diesel generators.

  • Diesel replacement

    The fine particles and black carbon emitted by diesel vehicles and engines can be virtually eliminated through technologies that are already present on half of new heavy-duty vehicles sold today.

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Three steps we need to take, starting this Earth Day, to avoid a climate catastrophe

•  Convert all our end uses of energy to electricity use and generate that electricity using solar, wind, hydro, geothermal and renewable biofuels. •  Drastically reduce emissions of “super pollutants” such as methane and soot for which the needed technologies are mostly available. •  Remove half of the carbon dioxide pollution that has already accumulated […]

Mongolia tackles air pollution in Ulaanbaatar by legislation and example

It’s midday, but the sky is dark, as if dusk has long fallen. The winter air is thick and sooty, creeping into living areas, from thousands of heating stoves and hearths alit with smoky, bituminous coal— 350,000 tonnes of this cheapest and most readily available solid fuel— and a persistent smog blankets the streets. The […]

Sulphur dioxide falls to record lows in the U.K. after coal plant closures

Levels of sulphur dioxide fell significantly between 2015 and 2016, largely as a result of the United Kingdom shutting down coal-fired power stations or converting them to biomass plants as part of its move to becoming a low-carbon economy. As of last month, sulphur dioxide emissions fell by 29 per cent year-on-year, while nitrogen oxide levels […]

World Health Organization issues recommendations to tackle health impacts of air pollution in Mongolia

The World Health Organization (WHO) last week released a set of long-, medium- and short-term recommendations for the Government of Mongolia to tackle air pollution. It is also urging the Government to keep air pollution as a top priority for policies and implementation throughout the year. The use of biomass (such as raw coal) to heat […]

France kicks off 2018 with anti-pollution incentives

Up to €1000 for any French citizen who wants to replace their old petrol-engine cars for those emitting less carbon dioxide, €3,000 for poorer households to switch to renewables-powered heating systems and an increase in the price of carbon. These are three measures, part of France’s “climate solidarity package”, came into force in 2018 as the […]

San Antonio’s roadmap drives sustainable urban growth

Clean air and water, resilience, economic vitality and equity form the foundations of the SA Tomorrow Sustainability Plan, San Antonio’s comprehensive roadmap for sustainable urban growth. Over 4,000 San Antonians were canvassed and consulted in the development of the plan in a variety of ways, with particular personal attention paid to the traditionally disenfranchised members […]

Renewable energy innovation transforms San Antonio’s economic development

San Antonio is living, breathing proof that renewable energy can be pillar of economic development. In the seven years that it has been in place, the New Energy Economy has led to more than $1.4 billion in annual economic impact, the creation of hundreds of jobs and over $200 million in educational and capital investment– among […]

San Antonio’s energy policy makes it a Texas state solar powerhouse

Texas, a leader in solar generating capacity in the United States, has a rising solar star: San Antonio, the nation’s seventh largest city, whose new energy policies are driving cleaner city development. State-owned power company CPS Energy has the highest solar generation capacity in the state with 13 solar farms producing 497 megawatts of renewable […]

Solar for All in Action

Solar Works DC is a program developed in partnership between the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) and Department of Employee Services (DOES). It’s one aspect of Solar for All, the District’s solar energy initiative launched in 2016. The innovative approach of Solar Works DC accomplishes two major goals at once: increasing solar capacity across the district while also developing a qualified local workforce to expand the District’s solar capacity long-term.

Washington, DC joins BreatheLife Network

The District’s core strategy for cleaner air is outlined in the Clean Energy DC plan, an ambitious vision for reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2032 and 80 percent by 2080. The bold plan positions the District as a global leader in fighting climate change; it also offers a roadmap to cleaner air and healthier citizens.

05

Solutions for Industry

05 - Solutions for Industry With more people living in cities, brick production and other heavy industry continue to contribute to air pollution. New technologies and practices are increasingly being introduced so that even as our cities grow, air pollution doesn’t grow with it.
  • Improved brick kilns

    Kilns used for firing bricks are heavy polluters of black carbon and put workers at increased risk for respiratory illness, but new kilns are being used that can cut emissions by up to half.

  • Improved coke ovens

    Coke ovens used to produce some metals emit toxins that can increase cancer risk. However, emissions can be captured for power generation and help minimize what is entered into the atmosphere

  • Fugitive emission control

    Fugitive emissions occur from leaks or the burning off of excess gas through flaring. Ongoing maintenance and new monitoring and detection technology can limit unnecessary emission from industry.

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San Antonio largest city to ban coal tar-based sealants

In June of 2016, the San Antonio City Council made history by banning the use of coal tar-based sealcoat products, making it the largest city in the nation to prohibit this compound which contains chemicals known to to cause cancer. City staff analyzed more than 80 white papers and research studies demonstrating that coal tar sealants […]

Building back with cleaner kilns (Nepal)

After the destruction of nearly 300,000 homes and significant damage to brick production facilities from the April 2015 earthquake…

New kiln technology (Bangladesh)

A brick kiln technology developed in Germany uses half the amount of coal during brick production, trapping particles inside the bricks…

06

Solutions for Food & Agriculture

06 - Solutions for Agriculture The agricultural revolution of the past 50 years has dramatically increased food supplies. At the same time, livestock production has become a major driver of climate change due to its heavy water, feed and energy requirements, and a major source of methane emissions from ruminant animals like cattle. Rice production in continuously flooded fields is also a major source of methane, which is has immediate climate warming impacts far more powerful than longer-lived CO2.
  • Alternate "wet-dry" irrigation

    Intermittently drying out rice paddies, which traditionally were flooded year-round, can significantly cut methane emissions, while also reducing breeding grounds for disease-bearing mosquitoes and other vectors.

  • Improved manure management

    Waste “digestors” extract methane from livestock waste and sewage converting emissions into a clean energy source. Manure can also be used as fertilizer to improve crop production, moderate methane release and prevent the spread of disease.

  • Reduced open burning

    Waste management programmes to prevent open burning from crop waste and domestic and municipal waste such as paper and plastics, avoids dangerous pollutants from being released into the air, including black carbon.

  • Healthier food production

    Policies that promote diets rich in plant-based foods, particularly among middle- and high-income populations with plentiful food choices, can lower healthcare costs while reducing methane emissions from livestock production.

  • Reduced food waste

    Separating and composting biodegradable food waste reduces methane emissions from landfills, and can also be used as a source of fertilizer for local agriculture.

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India announces plan to bring down air pollution from crop burning

India’s government has announced new measures to help cut air pollution from the burning of agricultural waste, a major contributor to regular air quality crises in the north of the country. The new measures, announced this month, offers subsidies for a range of machines that should remove the need for a farmer to set fire […]

Incentive programs for composting (Penang)

Penang’s composting project creates incentives for households to separate their organic waste.